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Vegan Food, Family & Travel

The Overdue Update

This is Diane - The horse at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary that has been sponsoredby Jasmin Singer & Mariann Sullivan (from Our Hen House) in Piper's name.
This is Diane – The horse at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary that has been sponsored by Jasmin Singer & Mariann Sullivan (from Our Hen House) in Piper’s name.

 

This post is long and not related to food at all. I’ve debated for weeks weither to even post this but I hope after I post this – well you’ll understand why I did. I also wanted to post it separately so that if you were visiting this blog strictly for the food – well you can easily opt out of all this and enjoy the food and eating vegan in a happy drama free environment. I’ll be honest this post is pretty depressing but I’m hoping there are some good points in there that will shine through.

If you have been reading this blog than you know that we lost our baby Piper* almost 2 months ago. Since then we have literally received hundreds of emails and messages from friends and readers of our blog letting us know how that they care about us and are sorry for our loss. They want to know how we are and what happened and almost all of them encourage us to either try again or to consider adoption. These are humane emails full of a lot of hope, kindness and heartfelt concern for our well being. To be honest – I think as of the writing of this post – I’ve answered 3 of them. Which makes me a jerk.

Not because these messages didn’t mean the world to me because they did but because every time I tried to sit down to respond… the finality of it all hits me and I start to have what can be described as a very mild panic attack. My chest tightens. I can’t take a breath and my eyes burn. My words fly away like scared birds and I’m left with a blank box waiting for me to “compose.”

You would think that time would make it better. I mean isn’t that the saying? And sayings get to be sayings for a reason. But it hasn’t really because I haven’t been able to escape this for even a day. Yes, I’ve started posting on Facebook again and tweeting. I started working on our second book again and another Star Trek marathon. But there is the constant reminder of my body. See I was almost 6 months pregnant and if you have ever had a baby – well you know that at that point you can give up on your favorite jeans for awhile. It has taken me over a month to get out of maternity clothes and for my stomach to look even slightly the way it used to. Which I can tell you is no small feat considering I haven’t been able to do sit-ups for 6 weeks. This is something I am still dealing with. Being someone who has never really obsessed that much about weight (mine or anyone else’s)… well I find myself in a new place. I find myself fighting vanity, embarrassment and of course those curious and innocent questions about how my pregnancy is going. I’ve recently had to have photos taken for the book and appear in an online video that will be coming out next week and you can see not only the emotional toll this has taken on me but the physical. To put it bluntly – I look beat the f*ck up.

Always buy your wife flours.
Always buy your wife flours.

This isn’t news to a lot of you who wrote me concerned emails and messages when you saw the photo that Dan posted of me in the grocery store with no make-up and little sleep – that honestly my self-esteem hadn’t flagged as being too bad. But honestly I hesitate to even mention my concerns about my weight at all because really I’m actually not as concerned as I should be. My thoughts focus more about losing Piper than my jean size. I also feel like there are a lot of you out there who struggle with this issue more than I do for whatever your personal reason is and I would never want to say or do anything that would make you feel like I don’t think your feelings on this issue are valid. You might be like me – torn between feeling unattractive and an unhealthy desire to race back to your ideal weight. As someone who used to kinda have a ball park idea what I weighed and focused more on what I was eating and doing… this is a new and unwelcome state of mind that beyond the obvious superficial concerns – reminds me every morning when I get dressed of who and what we lost.

Not that I need reminding. See the universe has felt an obligation to remind me every few days that it is in fact in no way fair and I am almost too old to be considering motherhood. This is nothing new to me.  When I was about 13, I read the book The Princess Bride. Now everyone remembers the funny peanut line and the quest to avenge a father but if you’ve read the book – well you know that the real undercurrent in the whole book is that “life isn’t fair.” I’ve never forgotten that book because it came into my life the same month as Gloria Steinam’s Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. The combination of those books was like a catalyst that began that long, often time wonderful and sometimes just plain horrible process of growing up. It made me who I am today. See it can be seen as pretty depressing to realize the world is an unfair place that is indifferent to suffering and where the bad guys can win or you can see it as empowering. You can see it as being a world where you have to be smart and prepared for your actions to matter. You can recognize that your generation has opportunities that the one before didn’t and with those privileges comes a responsibility to do good stuff and help those who the world is f*ucking over even more than you.

But here’s where things get really hard. Right now I’m fighting an almost daily battle with self-pity and moving around in the five stages of greif like some lingering figure skater warming up before their choreographed routine. Some days I am in denial and forget any of this even happened for a few hours. Some days I am so sad – I admit I lay in bed for at least a hour and cry at commercials. But mostly I’m really angry. I know I’m not supposed to admit that because in a way it makes me sound crazy and petty. I mean as a society haven’t we all silently decided we’re not going to talk about lost babies because it makes everyone uncomfortable and sad? But after reading all these emails we’ve gotten from other women who have also lost babies and reading these quotes by  Wolverine ( I mean Hugh Jackman) – I think I need to admit some things to all of you who visit my little corner of the internet. I could do it in private emails or anonymous chat rooms but that’s not really fair to all of you that I’ve shared at least 3 years of my life with and those women who have shared with me they have also lost babies. I’m hoping in a way – this encourages them to not feel the way that I have lately… alone.

See I have the privilege of having this blog to do that… so I should.

So let’s begin…

There are days when I feel this inexplicable urge to take all our coffee mugs and smash them in the middle of the street. This is actually really odd because I adore our coffee mugs. I’ve picked each one out and some are from our travels and could never be replaced. They are strangely precious to me. But the impulse is very real and makes me laugh at myself whenever it passes. Now you might be wondering what has happened over the past two months to make me so mad instead of just heartbroken. Well to be clear – I’m not living in a constant state of being pissed off at the universe and pottery. There have been triggers.

The first time I recognized that this was a reoccurring thought was Monday December 10th – when Slate.com decided to become an Italian mother who wanted to remind me I had missed the boat on this whole motherhood thing. I guess I should clarify that this wasn’t the first time I felt this way towards our coffee mugs but it was the first time I realized I had felt this way more than once. See there this article that was posted on Facebook by Julie Powell. Yes – That Julie Powell. The one who started it all. We are in fact Facebook friends – which is to say – we are strangers that share links when an algorithm feels like it. But see one thing I have learned from being “friends” with Julie is that she is again also dealing with a lot of the same issues I am and from time to time posts about IVF and problems with this whole motherhood thing. She posted this Slate article and Facebook passed it on to me.

If you never read the article – you might not know that it outlines all the hopes and fears any woman who has ever considered pregnancy past 30 already knew and has had – you’re going to have to worry about miscarriages, still births and birth defects more than your younger peers. There is not a single bit of new information in this fear mongering thing and it’s really poorly written too but man did it piss me off. Of course two days later, Slate felt an urge to post The Feminist Fertility Myth and it was confirmed that Slate had been taken over by my mother**.

But it was shortly after this that I started to think about when I had begun fantasizing about the destruction of my beloved kitten mug. I began to see that this wasn’t the first time this thought popped into my head.

I think the first time was after a friend slipped up and said they didn’t want to bring their daughter around me since “It happened.” They immediately realized what they said and tried to backtrack and side step out of it. At first they tried to say that they meant it would be hard for me to be around her but then it became very clear that they were worried their daughter “wouldn’t understand what I was going through”… meaning they were worried I was going to clutch her to my breast as if she was my own lost daughter and emotionally scar her for life. This of course lead to me and a handful of my closest friend to later joke about how I was now going to be labeled a potential “Baby Snatcher” amongst people who had watched too many Lifetime made for TV dramas.

It actually helped a lot for me to be able to laugh about the absurdity of this – especially when it happened again and then again. I’ll admit I laugh about it with those close to me and it helps but the “Baby Snatcher” joke touched on something I was already aware of and bothered by in our society… women who can’t have babies but wish they could make people sad and scared. It’s like they know that medical technology has proven infertility isn’t contagious or caused by witchcraft but it’s still a black cloud of bad luck that I think scares the crap out of people. It’s like we become The Typhoid Marys of Barrenness** and to be honest – I don’t like being the person who ruins someone’s day. So I find I either stay home alone**** or I make myself go out and am obnoxiously friendly and eager to talk about anything but what everyone knows about me in this fairly new city I live in… I’m the woman who lost a baby.

If you’re one of the at least hundred women who sent me a message about your own loss – you probably know what I mean. How even in this society that strives for gender equality and to value women for their contributions that go beyond motherhood… there is still a stigma to women who can’t – or even choose to not – have children. As much as I want to share this burden with Dan – who is my life partner and really good one – no one really understands unless you’ve been here. You just can’t.

So – here’s the part where I tell you about hope. It’s OK to gag a little. It was an awkward transition.

See the other day I read a feature on Our Hen House written by my friend Marisa Miller Wolfson titled Hopes For My Vegan Son. It was a beautiful piece that really reflected a lot of why Dan and I wanted Piper to begin with and what we had also hoped for her. It made me a little sad to read it while making me hope that we get another chance to be parents. It also inspired me to write this long and overly emotional post.

I know that a lot of you have a lot of questions about why this happened, my health, my diet and adoption. I still have a lot to say about those things, the healthcare system and strangely enough religion. Writing this didn’t make it all magically better. It just encouraged me to stop hiding out… at least online.

This post is way too long already so I’ll save those for another time because I wanted to end this post with a sincere and overdue statement of gratitude. I want to thank all the people who sent in messages offering sympathy and support. I want to thank everyone who shared their own stories of loss with me. I want to thank everyone who sent in hundreds of dollars to The Woodstock Sanctuary and especially those who sponsored an animal there in Piper’s name. To paraphrase a statement my friend Rachelle Owen made:

Piper will still get to make an impact on this world by encouraging help for those who need it.

That’s probably the most I could have ever asked for.

*I recently had a conversation with someone who kept referring to Piper as “My Dead Baby”… it was horrible and made me realize why they encourage you to name stillborn babies. Throughout this post and this blog I will always refer to our lost baby as Piper. I know that will make some of you uncomfortable. I hope you’ll get over it.
**Just kidding mom  – please don’t send an angry email.
***One message I received called it The Club of Childless Mothers
****Right now if you were ever a close friend of mine in Olympia, Seattle, Norfolk or DC – you’re thinking about the weekly dinner parties, movie nights and just things I love to host and plan… and you’re realizing how much this has effected me.


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6 thoughts on “The Overdue Update”

  • You are an amazing woman. I have been where you are (well at least in the same neighborhood) and am so thankful that you have the ability and desire to reach out and discuss all that you are going through. Thank you. Hugs and love and laughter to you Annie. xoxoxo

  • I have no idea what you are going through and I am so sorry. This should be something that women can feel they can share if they wish. Tori Amos went miscarried 3 times before finally carrying her now 12 year-old to term. She talks candidly about her miscarriages in interviews and wrote, “Spark” about them.

    Then there are women like my mother who miscarried twins and the subject is taboo in our house, 30 years later. I hope sharing this and allowing others to reach out is helping.
    Love from Philadelphia,
    Randi Fair

  • Hey Annie,

    I am so, so sorry to read about the loss of your baby girl. But what a beautiful tribute you have given her – amidst what I’m sure is a sea of totally human negativity, fear, anger, pain, and grief, you’ve managed to honor this little baby’s life, and that’s a wonderful, loving, selfless thing. My wish for you this holiday is that you celebrate exactly where you are in this journey. And since I can’t even begin to know how you feel in this situation, I’ll just say – know that you will move through this. You will.

    I think the world of you and Dan and wish all the best for the two of you. While we’ve never met, I kind of feel like we did when we interviewed you guys on the blog.

    Keep shining that lovely baby’s light, however short, on the world. Keep being human and sharing that with your readers. And please, by all means, keep being the gift you are to the vegan community. We need you – maybe now more than ever before.

    So much love, support, and gratitude,

    Lindsay (www.kissmeimvegan.com)

  • I am truly sorry for what you are going through. I have gone through a miscarriage and I know that it is emotionally difficult. I was only 3 months along, but I had a dream a few years later where my father introduced me to my daughter, Paige. I will never actually know if I lost a girl or not – but each time I have a dream about her, she is still Paige. I hope that you do consider adoption – my mother lost many children before she finally adopted me. I know there is still a place in her heart for each child she lost. You won’t forget, but it will ease up eventually. You don’t go ‘back to normal’ you find a new normal – and you build from there.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.
    Much love – Candace

  • Annie — You have my sympathy and my prayers. I am well-acquainted with grief, of many types — no need for me to make this personal, but suffice it to say it has been a rough year.

    My advice to you would be to try to avoid judging yourselves for any portion of your grief process. While it may be helpful to learn about the “stages of grief” they need not apply to your process. Be kind and gentle with yourselves. Wear pajamas all weekend if you want to. Indulge in too much TV, too much decadent food, too much sleep, too much sobbing, whatever you are feeling in the moment is valid. There will come a time when you want balance, and you can work on it then.

    You may feel superhuman, responding to life’s demands bravely and efficiently, only to backslide a few weeks later. You may become blindsided, once again, by another fit of sobbing or rage. This is all normal. Your grief process is uniquely yours and will not fit a predetermined pattern. The only way through it is through it, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to try to notice any blessings that may fall into your lap along the way.

    Finally, do not judge yourself for judging yourself. You are only trying to take your own pulse, so to speak, trying to understand who you are becoming throughout the process. Don’t worry, you are still you, you are still beautiful, and you are growing and changing in a way that motherhood will change each of us. Yes, you are a mother to your beloved Piper, and nothing will ever change that. One day the sun will come out and you will find a more comfortable perspective from which to begin to understand what she means to you in the context of your entire lives. Be well.

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